A year of opportunity

Just before the holidays we made some food changes in our house. We’d stumbled across a Netflix documentary “What the Health” and for the first time in 20+ years of marriage, Matt wanted a significant change too. I guess perhaps it was an early resolution.

We’re eating a plant-based diet. This is a big deal for him because he loves meat and milk. So we needed to quickly find some new options that he would enjoy. (Technically we’re not fully vegan, but vegetarian and dairy-free** with some exceptions. The boys are still eating some meat but we’ve completely cutout things like lunch meat).

It’s actually been fun to reimagine our food and explore new things. We’ve discovered we both love Indian food (although I have yet to try cooking anything and just prefer buying ready-made or takeout).

We know which veggie burgers we like, and the meatless meatballs are actually better (it’s a texture thing). He loves the chorizo “sausages”. The tofu lunchmeat options were the only failure, but substituting hummus and veggies or good old PB&J is just fine. Lots of avocados too! I got an avocado saver kitchen gadget for Christmas that makes me smile.

This week we’re testing out dairy alternatives. We’d already been using almond or coconut milk in smoothies and now it’s completely replaced dairy. The vegan mozzarella and cheddar are decent and perfectly fine as an accent. I like the tofu sour cream too.

But mostly we’re just not using cheese anymore. Honestly dairy was easy for me to give up and has made the biggest impact on how I feel. He’s noticing that a cup of tea is a better night time routine than a glass of milk and an easy way to cut calories. I have been trying a new tea each week to encourage (orange blossom from Teavana is a favorite).

Which got me to thinking about “diets” and New Years resolutions and why the stats say most people don’t stick with it past January. If I focus on all of the things I am giving up, it’s a whole lot harder and it frankly feels like punishing myself. The word diet itself just sounds negative.

Instead, focusing on the upsides–like using my insatiable curiosity to try new things and experiment as a tool to help us, and rewarding us with lots of things we love like splurging on fresh juices (strawberry lemonade!) and fruits, which I realize are being shipped in from somewhere much warmer, is a compromise I’m willing to make. The “goal” is about feeling healthier and having more energy, not trying to “stick with” sacrifices. That’s surely an eventual failure.

Speaking of compromise… going completely vegan is not in the cards for us. Making some modifications–like eggs and butter, and all of the things that they get used in–is one example. Sushi is another one that I just can’t give up, but have as a treat periodically.

As is splurging for special events. We had pastry treats for Christmas Eve breakfast and dessert from Rose Street Patisserie, and roasted whole rainbow trout with a garlic-mustard breadcrumb mix, which was fantastic! I appreciated every bite.

Everything in balance. I’m looking forward to more exploring in 2018 including maybe taking an Indian cooking class…Happy New Year!

Shepherd’s pie


I’m sorry. I don’t take this blogger photo thing as seriously as I should. It’s not pretty, but it’s good. 

A bit of backstory: I started blogging about 4 years ago when several baseball moms started bugging me to actually write down my recipes. It’s a concept, and I have never been one to be so formal. 

But then I got the idea that if I organized both my recipes and shopping lists that would be real value to working moms. I did that for a summer to test the idea and learned a ton about how people cook and grocery shop. The idea was solid (as proven out by services such as Blue Apron), but it didn’t really scratch the creativity itch for me. Nor did I really intend to make money at it.

Cooking is an art form. I just love sharing my tested recipes and even more joy when someone tells me they learned something new in the process (or tried a new ingredient). The blog serves that purpose for me. 

But in the past year or so, I have observed that we have a food consciousnesses crisis in this country. We have more, we consume more than we need, we waste more. And by “we” I certainly am generalizing. Americans don’t want to think about our food and where it came from or what purpose it serves our body. We are mindless consumers. And trained to be that way. 

That’s changing, but like most change, not fast enough. I do what I can in my little world to support that change—raising mindful eaters and sharing recipes with my small circle. I think I need to bring more of those cultural observations into the blog going forward, in addition to recipes and food travel notes. Thoughts welcome!!

Ironically, this recipe makes a massive amount of food that lasts at least 2 days (that’s eons in our house). But as winter sets in, we do need our comforts. All things in balance. 😉

Shepherd’s pie

  • 5lb potatoes, peeled and halved
  • 3/4c 1/2 &1/2 (or milk)
  • 1 stick butter
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey 
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 bag frozen mixed vegetables 
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne 
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • Dash of cinnamon 
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper 

Boil potatoes in salted water til soft (about 20 min). While potatoes cook, sauté meats until brown, add onion and celery, cook til soft (about 5 minutes). Add seasonings, frozen vegetables and tomato sauce. Simmer for 20 minutes and then remove bay leaf.

There are 3 keys to creamy, light mashed potatoes: 

  1. Never add cold liquids to hot potatoes (=glue)
  2. Don’t rinse potatoes, just let them air cool to a temperature you can handle. In this recipe you can let them sit awhile.
  3. Get a potato ricer. 

Microwave butter and cream for 1 minute. Add potatoes using ricer. Mix together, season with salt.

Place meat mixture on the bottom of large (10×14) baking dish, top with potatoes and sprinkle with parmesan. Cover with tinfoil, bake at 350 for 30 minutes, remove foil and cook another 10 min or so til top begins to brown.

Can be made ahead and/or frozen.

Shepherd’s pie


I’m sorry. I don’t take this blogger photo thing as seriously as I should. It’s not pretty, but it’s good. 

A bit of backstory: I started blogging about 4 years ago when several baseball moms started bugging me to actually write down my recipes. It’s a concept, and I have never been one to be so formal. 

But then I got the idea that if I organized both my recipes and shopping lists that would be real value to working moms. I did that for a summer to test the idea and learned a ton about how people cook and grocery shop. The idea was solid (as proven out by services such as Blue Apron), but it didn’t really scratch the creativity itch for me. Nor did I really intend to make money at it.

Cooking is an art form. I just love sharing my tested recipes and even more joy when someone tells me they learned something new in the process (or tried a new ingredient). The blog serves that purpose for me. 

But in the past year or so, I have observed that we have a food consciousnesses crisis in this country. We have more, we consume more than we need, we waste more. And by “we” I certainly am generalizing. Americans don’t want to think about our food and where it came from or what purpose it serves our body. We are mindless consumers. And trained to be that way. 

That’s changing, but like most change, not fast enough. I do what I can in my little world to support that change—raising mindful eaters and sharing recipes with my small circle. I think I need to bring more of those cultural observations into the blog going forward, in addition to recipes and food travel notes. Thoughts welcome!!

Ironically, this recipe makes a massive amount of food that lasts at least 2 days (that’s eons in our house). But as winter sets in, we do need our comforts. All things in balance. 😉

Shepherd’s pie

  • 5lb potatoes, peeled and halved
  • 3/4c 1/2 &1/2 (or milk)
  • 1 stick butter
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey 
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 bag frozen mixed vegetables 
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne 
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • Dash of cinnamon 
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper 

Boil potatoes in salted water til soft (about 20 min). While potatoes cook, sauté meats until brown, add onion and celery, cook til soft (about 5 minutes). Add seasonings, frozen vegetables and tomato sauce. Simmer for 20 minutes and then remove bay leaf.

There are 3 keys to creamy, light mashed potatoes: 

  1. Never add cold liquids to hot potatoes (=glue)
  2. Don’t rinse potatoes, just let them air cool to a temperature you can handle. In this recipe you can let them sit awhile.
  3. Get a potato ricer. 

Microwave butter and cream for 1 minute. Add potatoes using ricer. Mix together, season with salt.

Place meat mixture on the bottom of large (10×14) baking dish, top with potatoes and sprinkle with parmesan. Cover with tinfoil, bake at 350 for 30 minutes, remove foil and cook another 10 min or so til top begins to brown.

Can be made ahead and/or frozen.

Shepherd’s pie


I’m sorry. I don’t take this blogger photo thing as seriously as I should. It’s not pretty, but it’s good. 

A bit of backstory: I started blogging about 4 years ago when several baseball moms started bugging me to actually write down my recipes. It’s a concept, and I have never been one to be so formal. 

But then I got the idea that if I organized both my recipes and shopping lists that would be real value to working moms. I did that for a summer to test the idea and learned a ton about how people cook and grocery shop. The idea was solid (as proven out by services such as Blue Apron), but it didn’t really scratch the creativity itch for me. Nor did I really intend to make money at it.

Cooking is an art form. I just love sharing my tested recipes and even more joy when someone tells me they learned something new in the process (or tried a new ingredient). The blog serves that purpose for me. 

But in the past year or so, I have observed that we have a food consciousnesses crisis in this country. We have more, we consume more than we need, we waste more. And by “we” I certainly am generalizing. Americans don’t want to think about our food and where it came from or what purpose it serves our body. We are mindless consumers. And trained to be that way. 

That’s changing, but like most change, not fast enough. I do what I can in my little world to support that change—raising mindful eaters and sharing recipes with my small circle. I think I need to bring more of those cultural observations into the blog going forward, in addition to recipes and food travel notes. Thoughts welcome!!

Ironically, this recipe makes a massive amount of food that lasts at least 2 days (that’s eons in our house). But as winter sets in, we do need our comforts. All things in balance. 😉

Shepherd’s pie

  • 5lb potatoes, peeled and halved
  • 3/4c 1/2 &1/2 (or milk)
  • 1 stick butter
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey 
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 bag frozen mixed vegetables 
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne 
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • Dash of cinnamon 
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper 

Boil potatoes in salted water til soft (about 20 min). While potatoes cook, sauté meats until brown, add onion and celery, cook til soft (about 5 minutes). Add seasonings, frozen vegetables and tomato sauce. Simmer for 20 minutes and then remove bay leaf.

There are 3 keys to creamy, light mashed potatoes: 

  1. Never add cold liquids to hot potatoes (=glue)
  2. Don’t rinse potatoes, just let them air cool to a temperature you can handle. In this recipe you can let them sit awhile.
  3. Get a potato ricer. 

Microwave butter and cream for 1 minute. Add potatoes using ricer. Mix together, season with salt.

Place meat mixture on the bottom of large (10×14) baking dish, top with potatoes and sprinkle with parmesan. Cover with tinfoil, bake at 350 for 30 minutes, remove foil and cook another 10 min or so til top begins to brown.

Can be made ahead and/or frozen.

The art of cooking 

This post is dedicated to one of my newest followers–a man who has supported my food art for nearly 20 years now. In that time, I have grown tremendously. 

From the early years of picking out “fancy” recipes, which were usually (expensively) meh to the emotional meltdowns when I overzealously planned too complicated of a menu for dinner parties. He has simply smiled throughout (while opening another beer).

I’m far more confident and playful than I used to be. Mainly as a result of trial and error. Cooking is art after all, it’s fluid improvisation for me. Which is why I am not a very good baker–too much measuring!!
Doing the blog has forced me to be more disciplined, to write measurements and directions down, when normally I would say, “It’s easy, you just….” typically received by a blank stare.

I know not everyone likes to experiment, but for me cooking fuels my artist spirit. The act of creating energizes me, physically, mentally and spiritually. It’s an antidote for the blahs and a great way to redirect energy that more than once has given me the clarity to solve a problem.

Fuel for my soul!

I reflect on this today because I normally spend Sunday in the kitchen, prepping at least 2 meals for busy workweeks. It was a long day at an out of town swim meet, so I was thankful to come home to magical meatloaf.

There may have been some backseat driving as he finished getting it ready to go into the oven. But now that I have had time to reflect, I need to apologize for inhibiting another artist who’s always been supportive of me. In fact, He’s far more precise than I am…the complementary strengths will undoubtedly improve the recipe, and maybe some other stuff too. 😉

–Xxoo sweetheart! Dinner was great!!

Oysters on the Embarcadero


We just returned from a mother-son trip to San Francisco. Mostly we were looking at a few colleges, but it was also a chance to eat! 

It’s a joy to travel with Alec because he’s adventurous–I never have to search out “kid-friendly” menus, we just find the best places, including trying new foods like oysters. (“Mostly they taste like whatever you put on them,” was his summary.)
We ate our way through the Ferry Building. Highlights: the gruyere on the breakfast sandwich from Cowgirl Creamery, strawberry icecream from Humphrey Slocombe, mexican street corn from Gotts, cold press from Blue Bottle coffee, salami sandwich from Boccalone/Acme Bread. And of course eating oysters outside in one of the greatest cities in the world 😉

Some say the boys are spoiled. I think I’m the one who’s lucky.